Why opening a High Street restaurant is not a ‘departure’ for us

We were thrilled to receive a glowing 5-star review for our newly opened High St restaurant ‘The Oxford Kitchen’ in yesterday’s Oxford Times. I’m actually not sure it would have been possible to get a better review. Here are some of the comments:

“…adventurous, detailed, interesting, innovative, consistent, mind-blowing, unique and a breath of fresh air…”

“The salad had a clean, refreshing taste, as crisp as a Martini.”

“…the hand-pressed terrine served in a light batter astonished with its dense, farmyard taste and heart-warming presentation.”

“subtle, well-balanced flavours work beautifully together, each dish perfectly executed.”

“The scallops were an enormous hit, not just because of their depth of flavour but because their pairing with melting chunks of pork belly, sharp mandarin and almond purée worked perfectly.”

“Puddings perhaps even surpassed the level of excellence.”

“Astonishingly good value.”

I remember how I felt when we opened our first Cucina school restaurant, just on eight years ago. Back then, when I looked across at Andy the chef, and saw our company name embroidered into his chef’s whites, I wept with pride.

I certainly feel a lot of pride now with this successful start to our High Street restaurant, but it’s not the same.

When we started Cucina, I was on a quest to prove what was possible and to show that you could actually achieve the highest standards of food, service and value in school catering. That first opening was the realisation of a long-held vision.

And now we’re doing it once more, only this time in a High St context. A really different, context, certainly, but even so, this isn’t a quest to prove what is possible. We’ve shown what’s possible, and we’ve done it consistently in all our contracts over all these years.

So this new venture, as exciting as it is, is not a departure, even though that is how some have described it. It’s a continuation, and an extension.

Through all of our success at Cucina, we have been saying that we are a great food company, not just a great school food company.

Combining excellence in food, service and value really is the holy grail in our industry. I’m proud to say that we’re doing it once again, on the High Street this time.

I’m grateful for the work of an amazing team for making this happen – my co-owner Sam Davies,  Executive Chef John Footman, Head Chef Gerd Grieves and General Manager Tom Wood.

If you’d like to read the full review of The Oxford Kitchen, you can see it here:


And if you’re in Oxford, please pop in and try us out for yourself:


Till next time,


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